The water lapped at the feet of the ruddy-faced men who stood at the edge of the Sea of Tiberias. Normal bantering and fast movements pushed aside, they gazed at the horizon, uncertain of what to do next.
Peter slowly turned to face the others and quietly announced,
“I am going fishing.”
His fishermen friends looked at one another and then answered,
“We will also come with you.”
Picking up their fishing net, they dragged it to their nearby boat. Mustering all the inner strength they could find, they tried to put their hearts into another day of fishing.
A few years before, they had left their nets and followed Jesus willingly. Every time they observed scales falling from the eyes of blind people, and watched Jesus straighten crippled limbs, their faith grew stronger. Even though their bodies were weary at the end of long days, their hearts were filled with purpose.
Now, through a terrifying series of events, they had lost their best friend, their leader, and the one whose footsteps they had followed. Everything had changed. They were alone.
All they knew to do was push away from the shore. Fishing was familiar. Surely they would bring in their daily quota.
By the end of the day, however, they were heading to shore with an empty boat. Disappointment and bewilderment welled up inside of them. What had they done wrong? They’d been fishing almost their whole lives…until Jesus came along.
Two questions lingered in their weary minds: “How will we survive without Him? What are we supposed to do?”
Suddenly, a man appeared on the beach and spoke to them gently.
“Children, you do not have any fish, do you?
Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat,
and you will find a catch.”
With nothing to lose, they followed the man’s instruction. Soon, 153 fish flopped around in their net. Without a doubt, they knew this man was the Lord.
Jesus knew the fear that gripped their hearts and the despair that shouted, “You have no future.” He was about to reveal a new plan.
Jesus had a charcoal fire waiting for them when they came to land. He said,
“Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.
Come and have breakfast.”
They eagerly settled in beside him. As He began serving them, they remembered the words He had spoken during His earlier appearance:
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
He then breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
There on that beach, His disciples realized Jesus was giving them a new call, a personal call. Equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit and infused with new purpose, they left their nets once again and walked by faith into their own ministries of preaching the gospel and bringing souls into God’s kingdom.
As I read this familiar Bible passage*, I pondered what my own future would look like. When the doors of confinement are flung open, would I return to “fishing as usual,” or would I choose to leave my safety net—my familiar, normal way of living—and walk into God’s future for me?
I decided I don’t want to backtrack. I’ve asked God to help me preserve my new lifestyle that has evolved out of COVID-19.
The most special part is having unlimited time to meet with God in the mornings and talk to Him throughout the day. I’ve been able to slow down, relax and guard against my usual hectic pace. I feel pleasure, rather than guilt, whenever I have a long lunch on my porch. Interestingly, even with this slower pace, I’ve made significant progress on my writing goals and other priorities, and even tackled a needed reorganization project.
I’m enjoying people more. A nightly bike ride around my condo complex with a friend gives me needed physical exercise while also opening a way to know my neighbors better and meet new ones. The four of us on my side of the building have shared food, checked up on each other, and shared laughter and words of encouragement. We were close before, but nothing like this.
While being cooped up, I’ve frequently talked with my nieces, nephews, cousins, and personal friends. I’m on a roll, and I want to keep going.
Because we can’t congregate as a church family, our leaders have developed new touchpoints for us during the week, in addition to the services streamed online. Isn’t it exciting that more people are viewing church services now than ever before?
You probably have your own list of positive results. Many of you parents have developed creative family times inside your homes. While your children engage in online learning, you’ve found ways to encourage their teachers. Families and individuals have stepped forward and packed food bags to deliver to frontline people.
Even after we’re free to roam wherever we want, we can keep giving these gifts to others: kindness, gratitude, understanding, empathy, a listening ear, words of hope, and assurance that God loves them and has a good future planned for them.
Let’s preserve those things that have produced new values in us and changed our perspectives on life. Let’s walk away from our nets—our familiar way of living—and step into the new lifestyle God has prepared for us.
In addition to the wonderful parts of your lives that were in place before COVID-19, what new things do you want to continue doing?
*The Bible story is based on the book of John, chapter 21.